Please note: this isn’t an exhaustive list of flower farming must-haves, by any stretch – but all of these items are easy to fit in a stocking or under the Christmas tree.
Flower Farmer Gadgets, Tools and Accessories I Can’t Live Without
McEvoy Ranch Body Balm – I discovered this years ago, in a pop-up shop at the San Francisco airport when I was returning from a business trip. The balm is made with oil from olives grown on their farm in California, and it’s about the only product I’ve found that can replace all of the moisture that gets stripped from my hands after a day of working in the dirt or washing buckets. I use it on my hands every single night before going to bed. It’s pricey, but it doesn’t take much of it to thoroughly rehydrate dry skin. It comes in several soothing scents, but the citrus is my favorite. Or maybe "verde." Either way, I love this stuff.
Brass hose shut-offs – You know what I hate almost as much as dragging hoses around? Having to run back to the faucet to shut off the hose so I can change what’s on the end of the hose – from spray nozzle to sprinkler, or to add another hose length, or whatever. These shut-offs allow you to cut off the water at the end of the hose – where you’re working – instead of having to shut it off at the source. You can find these at the hardware store, but the ones listed here are much heavier duty, which makes them both more durable as well as easier to turn on and off. We have one on the end of every single hose you will find on the farm.
Nail brushes – No amount of hand-washing can get rid of the dirt underneath my fingernails after a day of planting – unless I use a nail brush. These are great stocking stuffers and there are tons of cute ones on the market, made out of all kinds of materials, including wood. I tend to grab these plastic ones from Amazon, though, because the brushes are durable and just the right size and strength, they last a long time, and I like the colors.
Hori Hori knife – I never understood what the fuss was all about with this tool…until I started using one. It’s a trowel for transplanting or digging out tough weeds, it’s a knife, it’s a saw, it cuts string, and the blade even has a ruler on it. About the only thing it can't do is harvest the flowers for you. I carry one on my overalls in a holster so it’s always handy, and we have one for every member of the farm team. If I could only have one tool in the fields, this would be it.
Insulated drink container – I’ve always liked my cold drinks to be ICY cold (even a couple years of living in Europe, where cold drinks are served without ice (!!) didn't change my mind), and the only way that happens in the hot summer months is thanks to my trusty Corkcicle. It’s just as important in the winter, when a hot drink while out in the fields doing off-season chores is one of the only ways to get warm. There are lots of different insulated drink containers on the market, but this is the one on my Christmas list:
Fadeproof pens – Have you ever planted a new variety that turns out to be everything you’d hoped – just the right color, with long, tall stems and extended vase life – and when you go to check the label you carefully inserted in the ground next to it…the writing has faded to nothing? That used to happen to us all the time, yielding an awful lot of dahlias that went into winter storage labelled “???.” So frustrating... These pens have ink that withstands the harsh UV exposure that plant labels are subjected to. I buy them by the dozen every year.
Sea salt hand soap – Non-farmers might find this soap too rough, but the coarse grains of the embedded sea salt is perfect for getting stubborn grime off, and I find that the texture provides a welcome massage to my tired hands. I don’t like highly scented soaps, and so the lack of any strong perfumes in this one suits me just fine. I always prefer to buy local products and so I buy a similar soap from a local producer, and you may be able to do the same. But if not, I certainly recommend this one.
Here's hoping you find what you're wishing for under the tree this season! Happy holidays!